If You’re Unhappy And You Know It, Change Your Life

Does your current life leave you unfulfilled? Are you convinced that you possess talents far beyond those you’re putting to use? Is your purpose in life being trampled by the stresses of a “9 to 5″ job? Aren’t you capable of so much more?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, I welcome you to change your life. Acknowledging your desire for positive change is easy — the difficult task is of course, where do you begin?

A good first step is to assess where you are in life. Is there something specific causing you to feel unsatisfied, powerless, or insignificant? Do you feel like this all the time, or only some of the time? Can you pick out a pattern in your emotions? For example, do you feel great on Friday afternoons before the weekend but then feel horrible on Monday mornings when you must return to work?

If that pattern sounds familiar, you may be suffering from job stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing “burn out” at a high-demand job. Maybe you’re sauntering along, unchallenged at a job where your workday is spent in a state of boredom — and the stress results from watching the clock all day. Or maybe your employer doesn’t respect your personal contributions and fails to fully compensate you for your hard work. Then again, it could simply be that your job is seemingly unimportant in the grand scheme of the world, and it would have no serious impact whether you choose to work 60 hours a week or only six hours a week.

I’m not suggesting that your job is the sole reason you are unsatisfied with the life you’re leading — other aspects of life certainly come into play. The reason I am focusing specifically on changing your life by changing your job is because a large majority of people equate the two.

Are you someone who equates your life and your job? If so, don’t feel ashamed of feeling this way — you’re certainly not alone in your thinking, as there are many logical reasons that cause your brain to make this connection. The two most obvious reasons you would believe your job is your life are:

  1. Nearly 40% of your waking life is spent working a full-time job.
  2. When asked what you do, you identify yourself using your job title.

In addition to these, there is often an underlying idea in your subconscious making the same connection. If your true calling is to be a musician, but you work bagging groceries, then this subconscious desire is contributing to your feeling of discontent. You know in your heart that what you’re doing to earn a living is not what you truly want to do with your life, and consequently your desire is longing for you to do what you love instead. The desire makes you question your current existence and dream of a better life for yourself.

Consequently, what you do as your occupation has significant influence over who you are as an individual. If you aren’t passionate about the work that you do, you may be miserable because of it. Your job is therefore likely to be the most fundamental area of your life that requires positive change.

So what’s the next step? Get another job, right? Unfortunately, you can’t be so quick to believe starting a new job is the best solution. In my case, it certainly wasn’t.

After college I began working full time as “the computer guy.”

It seemed like the logical step to take. While working towards my degree in Computer Science, I gained some experience in the computer industry interning at a computer consulting firm. The work was challenging, the demand for work was high, and I was good at it.

Something wasn’t right, though. I struggled to get out of bed every morning, I was unmotivated at work, and I was generally unhappy with my life. Within one year, I left the consulting firm in search of something better.

At the time, I was looking in the wrong places. Under the belief that I could deliver my talents directly, I began doing freelance computer support. The strange thing was, whenever business opportunities came my way, I didn’t pursue them. I would later learn this was due to a lack of passion for the work involved — I preferred to ignore the opportunities because I didn’t enjoy doing freelance work.

With the hope that I could make money quickly, I tried a short stint as a professional gambler. One month later I was several grand in the hole, and decided to cut my losses and return to the low-risk, low-reward lifestyle of “the computer guy.”

Since I quit my previous job outright, I was too embarrassed to ask for my old job back. Consequently, I spent nine months interviewing for positions in the computer industry. My unenthusiastic demeanor during interviews often put me out of the running for the position, and I eventually had to accept a job in local government with a pathetic starting salary.

My point is that job-hopping was not the answer to my problem. In fact, the problem was never even at the fault of the jobs I worked — it was always my inability to be true to myself.

I knew I didn’t enjoy working in the computer industry. I tried it, but didn’t like it. Why then, would I believe that I could find happiness through a different computer job? Why didn’t I try something else?

Because I was naive, comfortable, confused, and afraid. I didn’t want to step outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t want to start over and have to discard everything I’d already done. I didn’t want to begin as an amateur and risk the embarrassment of being booed off stage. I was terrified of actually living.

It took two more years working as “the computer guy,” hiding from life, before I understood what would happen if I kept it up: I would continue growing older, and the opportunity to change my life would continue getting shorter. Aware of how my life would not improve unless I began creating positive change on my own, I left home with a plan to reinvent myself.

I’m a writer now — or at least, it’s my goal to be one. I want to write things that people can relate to. I want my writings to help people recognize how it’s never too late to change direction in life. I want to help inspire people to create positive change in their own lives, follow their true calling, and experience a more fulfilling lifestyle every day.

So if your current life leaves you unfulfilled, if your talents aren’t being put to use, or if your purpose in life is being trampled by your job, then tell yourself that you’re capable of so much more. Remember, acknowledging the need for change is only the first step. The next step involves choice.

Do yourself a favor and choose to start living — once I made this choice, I only wished I made it sooner.

If you've found this website helpful, please click the PayPal button. You will be helping me pursue my dream career as a writer. Thanks for your support!

26 Responses to “If You’re Unhappy And You Know It, Change Your Life”

#1 David Bradey on 17, May, 2007 at 12:38 am

Insightful article, Shaun.

Speaks volumes on ‘Tales of The Computer Guy’. I do like working on computers, building them, etc but I do find the actual job far too tedious without the benefits of learning and growing. I know it has a lot to do with the company. John left the company and now he is always telling Carl and I what new this or that he is working on. You may not feel the same way had you been able to find a job that made the job fun.

Of course, I say that today but I too have opportunities outside of the job but I tend to loathe them as it starts to chip away at the little time I seem to have at the end of the day.

I think I just wrote in circles. Anyway, great read.

#2 Brian @ BasicHabits on 17, May, 2007 at 9:08 am

Great post! Very long though :( I think a great way to sum up this idea is by having simple, well defined goals and an clear plan on what you are going to do to achieve those goals.

I don’t think that most people have trouble figuring out what they don’t like about their life (Work sucks, I can’t form real relationships, and I have no direction in my life) but figuring out where to go next is the real key, in my opinion.

Also, I think it’s important to realize that there is SO much more to life than work. I think that living a balanced life is the key.

#3 Brian @ BasicHabits on 17, May, 2007 at 9:10 am

Great post! Very long though :( I think a great way to sum up this idea is by having simple, well defined goals and an clear plan on what you are going to do to achieve those goals.

I don’t think that most people have trouble figuring out what they don’t like about their life (Work sucks, I can’t form real relationships, and I have no direction in my life) but figuring out where to go next is the real key, in my opinion.

Also, I think it’s important to realize that there is SO much more to life than work. I think that living a balanced life is the key.

(pssst…i think something’s wrong with your comment filtering. the captcha isn’t working very well)

#4 Bob on 17, May, 2007 at 10:11 am

I subscribed to your RSS feed after your “10 reason” post, and I find myself looking forward to your posts.

I’m in the same boat as you. Computer professional who enjoys computers but doesn’t enjoy it professionally. I’m good at it, but I got into the field without loving it. I’m 25 now and I’ve decided I need to change my life.

#5 Shaun Boyd on 17, May, 2007 at 1:52 pm

@David
That was always my problem in the computer industry — the time spent doing tedious work was considerably more than the time spent learning new and interesting things. It’s tough because when the tedious work involves teaching, you’re more likely to keep making sacrifices since you’re anxious to help someone in need. Making these sacrifices is kind, but when you spend years focusing your energies to benefit others you’ll notice that if your efforts go unrewarded, then you are the one losing out. Just remember, you’re not obligated to fix everyone else’s problems — sometimes you have to concentrate on your own.

#6 Shaun Boyd on 17, May, 2007 at 2:10 pm

@Brian
Thanks for commenting. I agree with you when you say living a balanced life is important. It’s easy to become enslaved to your work, either as a distraction from a less-than-wonderful life, or because you enjoy it so much that it rises naturally to your number one priority. When you obsess over your obligations to your work, other aspects of your life can falter. The best defense against letting that happen is to have more fun!

#7 Shaun Boyd on 17, May, 2007 at 2:12 pm

@Bob
I am so incredibly grateful for your comment. As indicated in this article, I want my writings to help people recognize how it’s never too late to change direction in life. It sounds like that’s something I’ve done for you. Congratulations, Thank You, and Good Luck!

#8 Georg on 23, May, 2007 at 8:57 am

this is of course well written – but i think YOUR big problem was that you were never happy with your computer-job.
I wonder how you even got into the field.

There MIGHT be people who LOVE writing software or creating databases, fixing computers, “geeking” so to speak.

If you dont have that passion you are at the wrong place.

I am “lucky” in that sense that i am “older” and started out my “career” as a typical computer-freak of the mid-80s..and SO FAR was happy with all my jobs i had.

HOWEVER i slowly changed my view there since it is defintly NOT fun eg. sitting 8hrs a day in front of a database, working with SQL tables…hell NO ;)

I DO want to see results, i want to be creative (which is possible in a certain way eg. in software). But times have changed.

Now its away from the “enthusiast” thing because the PC became a mainstream tool..and the real “enthusiasts” who enjoy working with computers “just because its a a computer, a tech gadget thingy” are way LESS than years ago. Computers, so to speak, on a certain level became boring.

Software engineers OFTEN way underpayed…while they once were like an elite everyone lookup up to a “geek” since NOONE understood what they did …now its just one job amongst many and often NOT satisfying, boring.

#9 Georg on 23, May, 2007 at 9:16 am

as to the overall theme of this writing:

I can only 100% agree. Me, and also my GF (back in states, i moved back to EU, LONG story)…..now talking of her back in usa:

She was UNHAPPY with the usual job-stress going on and a terrible rut of long commute to an underpaying job for a while. Bad supevisors……false friends. Bad living situation.

Friends who did NOT encourageher to change her life but INSTEAD instruct her to assimilate and ACCEPT life as it is, with all its negative sides.
Also…recommending just “up your anti depressive dosage”. Give up on your dreams ! I am serious !(Eg. her wish is always to see Europe and, finally, meet with me again and have a new life with me here)

She had to listen to a “friend” telling her she should stop “lusting for a Europe which doesnt exists as you think”.

Needless to say my GF is unhappy with almost all aspects in the states and her life there.

AS A RESULT…just two days ago..and after a talk…she now bought a ONE WAY ticket to Europe. She is selling all her stuff and starting packing for the trip to me.

What i want to say is: You can sit in regret, you can sit and complain. You can spend the rest of your life an average life and your dreams and goals might never be realized.
OR YOU CAN CHANGE your whole life.

This is also valid for relationships which are UNHAPPY because people are only together because “its comfortable”…and just accepting a situation giving yourself a FALSE sense of comfort and routine.

I myself changed my life a few times, sometimes unforseen, sometimes not.

I faced HUGE resistance, eg. when i still was married and my marriage slowly went down the drain after 6 years.

When i met my GF i had to fight so we could meet up, since (from my ex’s point of view) my desire was unreasonable and IRRESPONSIBLE…eg. she rather had me staying there and help paying off HER bills, THUS putting my happiness and life BACK – to “confirm” to the daily routine of continuing my job, paying bills etc. until we have a 100% “right” and official “divorce”.

HOWEVER – i quit my job and booked a flight to meet up with my new GF…and this was one of the BEST times of my life !

What i am saying is: People often force a LOT of resistance if they want to “break out” of known patterns…..this can be their own fear of change…or others pressuring them NOT to change their lifes for the sake of….i dontknow !

If you dont change, if you dont put energy in changing, if you dont want a change, really you might MISS out on a lot…its almost scary thinking about it.

Many people DO live their lifes like that.

#10 Ben on 23, May, 2007 at 2:35 pm

I was that quintessential computer guy too. I was more on the hardware side since I have owned and operated 2 large shops and ran the corresponding websites. but over the years it became tedious and I found the lay-people to be intrusive (usually) just like the OP of this blog did. Once the new family (like the wife’s in-laws in my case) find out you run a high end PC shop you can’t believe the intrusion that takes place because they tell everyone they know — and that parts is ok, but then many of those people expect free advise or free repairs anytime they contact you because they ‘know your family’.

Most people are either too lazy or not tech savvy enough to troubleshoot hardware issues (and software) so when they find out you’re a real life uber-geek they can really take advantage of you. So what did I do about it? (since I was miserable too). I decided that since I loved PC hardware but loathed the way everyone wants to make you their personal Atari slave that I would get out of the business nearly entirely, and what I did was sell my computer businesses and go to Chiropractic school and now have my own Sports-Chiropratic practice (I also like sports). I still get very excited about computers, and still build PC’s for a select few people, but now I only build them for people that already know a bit about computers or are experts themselves but don’t have the time to build but can deal with a one year system warranty (besides the often generous retail-lifetime part warranties they also get parts depending). I don’t build for the average-Joe anymore. I also explicitly turn down giving all and any forms of computer advice for anyone outside of my immediate family (and hers), and that would be security advice, hardware/software troubleshooting advice, or networking advice. I just flat out say “I don’t do that sorry” with a smile on my face and I’m sure to walk away or move on from the proximity of those that are seeking the advice.

The key is in not getting too upset about them asking you for advice and then politely but very confidently turning them down with zero regrets or guilt. Sure I have had them ask why in the hell won’t I give them any advice because they heard I was an expert or they know I am, so I simply say …

“No thank you I’m not in that business anymore as I have another professional business to run, nor am I interested in that area of giving advice any longer I suggest a local repair shop”.

Now, sometimes when I say that they STILL try to make me feel guilty but I don’t stick around them long enough for them to try and get an angle on doing so. If I’m contacted on the phone about it I tell them what I posted above and then tell them I have to go because I’m busy or have somewhere to go. After a while people stop contacting you.

#11 Shaun Boyd on 24, May, 2007 at 8:37 am

@Georg
It’s true — my problem was that I was never happy with my computer job. I don’t think my reasons for getting into the field were the wrong ones: I enjoy challenges and would very often be able to resolve computer problems for people — but my approach was wrong. I was working for the computers, a task that was entirely draining. I’ve reversed my approach, and now the computers work for me. I’ve begun working smarter, not harder, and I’m liking this approach much better.

#12 Shaun Boyd on 24, May, 2007 at 8:45 am

@Ben
I’m happy to hear you were able to leave the computer industry where you were miserable to take on new challenges in the medical field. I imagine there is an enormous difference in the amount of personal satisfaction you receive on the job. I remember that at the end of each day, the closest I came to truly helping people was teaching them how to do something silly, like use an email attachment. In the medical field, you do truly help people, by assessing what is causing them pain and then relieving it. Thanks for commenting. :-)

#13 itsonlythelama on 31, May, 2007 at 9:46 am

Hey Shaun, great article, can really relate. Unfortunately I am STILL ‘the computer guy’ and STILL doing a job that I am well aware that I don’t like.

The reasons for this are two-fold:
a) This job pays me damn well, I bought a house last year and I need the income to keep up with the repayments.
b) Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t. I recently moved projects last year from one that I found very boring with a small work load to one that I thought would be interesting, unfortunately its just as boring with a large work load! If I am regretting moving projects what happens if I move jobs!

So I guess you could say that commitments and fear keep me as ‘the computer guy’. Don’t get me wrong though, I’d love to make money blogging or doing something creative, but then what happens to the house???

Did you have any commitments when you did the change or were you care-free and easy?

Anyway, love the site, glad you’re living the dream mate!
Lama (London-England)
p.s. really think the goals article is top-notch too.

#14 Shaun Boyd on 31, May, 2007 at 11:36 am

@Lama
Thanks so much for your supportive comments. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the articles. To answer your question, I made the decision to change after understanding that “now’s the time.” I wasn’t paying a mortgage, I wasn’t married, and I was 24. If I settled on the career path I didn’t enjoy, I would only make it more difficult for myself to change later in life. That’s not saying it’s impossible to change later in life, but I imagine it’s got to be far more terrifying when you have a mortgage, or a family to support. In any event, you could say that I was “care-free and easy” and looked forward to beginning a commitment with my girlfriend in Michigan. That’s the number one reason I made all of the changes in my life, and it feels good knowing I didn’t let fear prevent me from pursuing a relationship with Cassie. Cheers mate!

#15 Cheryl on 09, Jul, 2007 at 9:33 am

I read this whilst at work surprise surprise :-) I am so bored at the minute and your article is spot on with how I feel. I am nearing 40 now and having been a secretary/pa for about 21 years I am restless and thinking back I have been for a long time now but just recently it’s getting worse. I have been made redundant a few times from this line of work and as it’s the only work I’m qualified in just seek another PA position. I need direction, feel stuck in a rut.

#16 Shaun Boyd on 09, Jul, 2007 at 11:24 am

@Cheryl
I know exactly what you mean. There were several years where I was unhappy at a job, so I’d leave it only to apply for ones just like it. It’s as if doing something you’re qualified for, comfortable at, and can do well in clogs your senses: Why do something you don’t enjoy just because you know how to do it? It took me several years to snap out of it. Here’s to hoping that you will do the same. Thanks for your comments, and good luck!

#17 Ian Adams on 24, Jul, 2007 at 3:50 pm

I’ve known for about 7 years (after two years of working in the industry) that computers were not what I wanted to be “doing” for the rest of my life. Since then, I’ve been orchestrating a career change into filmmaking, which has been one of the most difficult transitions I’ve ever had to make in my life. I’ve known since I was 20 that my passion — my “calling,” if such a thing existed — lies in film, and I’m going to be 28 when I finally start film school and launch my career.

But there were a lot of good reasons for waiting, among which were the fact that I really needed to focus on myself and what kind of person I was. I needed to also get myself into a position where I could afford (not just monetarily) to make the change. These things were not easy, but for the most part they are done, and because of that I’m finally ready to make the change.

The trick, I found, was that I needed to have a big, ultimate goal — filmmaking, in my case — and then needed to work out the smaller steps required to achieve that goal. While never taking my eye off the ball, I worked tirelessly to make the necessary improvements in my life which ultimately allowed me to “throw the switch.” But the key to it all was knowing what I wanted to do, and having a willingness to take risks and do whatever needed to be done in order to accomplish that goal. I stayed foolish, and stayed hungry, (in the words of Steve Jobs) and the efforts have begun paying off.

I’m on my last job as a software tester, and I can tell you with utter certainty that I won’t miss it. I try to avoid being burnt-out, but it’s hard knowing full well that I simply don’t care about my job. But for the next few months, I still need it, and so I still (as I like to say) fake a work-gasm. But I really don’t like my current career, and I can’t wait to finally be free of its chains.

#18 Srini Venkat on 13, Aug, 2008 at 12:21 am

I am like you. I will cut straight to my core thought.

I don’t think you will be happy with writing either. You will destruct, rediscover, and continue on that same cycle again. Some of us are not wired to do one thing.

Choose entrepreneurship. You establish a business, sell it, build another business. But I know it’s easier said than done. But then again, your job isn’t the only sort of fulfillment you are looking for. Relationships, your spirituality, everything will challenge you and you will run into the same kind of cycles there as well. You are chasing after an intense living and fulfilling experiences. Recognizing that and not looking for one thing that will provide ‘happiness’ is perhaps the way to be.

I felt like I could relate to you so that’s why I chose to pretend like I know what’s gonna happen with you.

#19 Will on 19, May, 2009 at 3:05 pm

God, that first step is so hard. My wife sent me this because she knows I’m just as unhappy as you describe. Thus, I have discovered your website. Only there’s a big difference between you and I. I lack the courage and confidence to do something about my situation. I started as the tech support “computer guy” and worked my way up to Network Engineer. Each rung in the ladder was challenging and fun until I was a Team Lead for a mega corporation. They gave me more to do with no reward. I was training, supervising, coaching, taking calls, having to meet the same stats as everyone else with only 20% of the time everyone else had to meet those stats… It was bad… then I took the NOC job. I thought this would be the place… I entered an world culture of BAD! I was told I could challenge myself and others by having them see with eyes where I came from and see through theirs learning about what I was supposed to do. Only, the senior guys are scared of losing their jobs and won’t share anything… forcing me to become this robotic report guy. SQL, Server maint, Network Mapping, all this is held back… Even when asking the sup for info… he hands me a 900 page document and says, ” I just read this last weekend and I never thought I would enjoy a technical document that much.” Give me a breaK! Not only do I not believe that but, he’s adding to this “help yourself” culture. I don’t want to do things like this anymore. It’s broken my heart. I know over the next 2 years if I last that long at this place with the 11 backstabbing people I work with, that I will be given more to learn and more to do without any reward. I will have to kick, scream, and scratch my way up proving myself when I want to work in a more enriching place. I have no certs, no education in computers, I was just good at them… I don’t intend to purchase anything. I mentored people as a trainer/team lead for “mega corp” and turned people who didn’t know the difference of left or right click into Mega techies… and made allot of friends doing it. I never gave the answers but provided real challenges by asking allot of questions. Now, I’m at a place where I need to learn all this all over.. the noob! Only when I ask questions these guys are like “huh!” I don’t want to do this anymore. Being the computer guy sucks. However, being the scriptwriter, the photographer, the real estate agent, the anything…. is scary! I’ll be a complete noob all over. Not to mention I still haven’t found any spare confidence on the floor. I’m hoping reading your site will give me more insight to feel more comfortable. However, when you’re a guy like me who’s scared to even try out of failure… I’m not sure how far I can go. So far… I like what I read… thank you for that. Only how do I make the answers actually happen now… NOC jobs are hard to get w/o experience… I was happy to get this. Honestly they haven’t even shown me how to set up network monitoring. I’m teaching myself here and I don’t have the passion to do that. Especially if these zombies next to me don’t either. I hope I last long enough to be able to take action on my life or I just might end up at a circle K 16hours a day.

#20 rrw25 on 19, Jun, 2009 at 1:19 am

Lately I have found that I am very unhappy! I recently changed jobs, I am doing the same type of work, just in a different city, and I decided to make this move and change because I was unhappy… However, my mood is the same, there is no excitement with the new job (I actually feel like many things about my old job were better) and I just feel stuck! I feel like I need a “total life makeover!” But as mostly everyone has said… Knowing where to start or how to change is the tough part! I was thinking about pursuing other fields of interest but it seems like I haven’t been able to get motivated (that fear of change thing), but after reading your article, some ideas of how to work on change have sparked!

#21 Lisa on 02, Jan, 2010 at 1:09 am

As I sit here, on January 01, 2010 contemplating my life, I wonder, “what can I do to make it better & better yet, why haven’t I finished my two projects, My book, & My Coach Training??? The thoughts have entered my mind several times and I must admit, I guess, as for most, it’s “PROCRASTINAION”… I must kick myself in the butt and get a move-on and just “Do-It”… I would love for anyone’s advice??

Happy New Year!!

Lisa

#22 The lonely bulldozer operator on 21, Mar, 2010 at 1:13 am

“Do yourself a favor and choose to start living — once I made this choice, I only wished I made it sooner.”

Great advice, but I still don’t know where to start.

#23 sazzle on 28, Jun, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I hate my job and I can’t wait to leave!!! thanks for the article and roll on the changes. It helps to know I’m not the only one feeling like this. Good luck to you all life changers!! xxx

#24 KJ telephone person on 27, Jan, 2012 at 2:54 pm

This is a great article. I am not even in the computer industry, in fact I wouldn’t even call what I do for a living an industry. Basically all I do all day is make phone calls. For the past 25 years (I am 46 years old now) and it’s all I’ve done, some form of telemarketing, lead generation or call it what you like, and it’s business to business so technically inside sales if you will.
Yes I’m great at it, but I’ve really begun to hate doing it, and it seems I have no way of getting out of it, due to lack of skills elsewhere and not really any support from people let alone encouragement. I’m really at a loss as to what to do except keep doing it because I don’t see a way out of it because unfortunately it doesn’t pay that well, well enough to pay my rent and monthly expenses but that’s about it. So I have to work full time and can’t go to school during the day full time (for what I wouldn’t know) I just suppose I have to keep going on as is because I don’t see much in the way of answers right now, but good luck to you who are making the effort to change and have people to support you and encourage you in the process.

#25 jasu on 06, Feb, 2012 at 4:02 am

I liked this article and myself going through a similar phase . I am very confused , trying to understand what would make me happy . I regularly introspect myself and but no solution comes to my mind .After reading your article I am somewhat happy and hopeful of a better life. Thank you

#26 Melissa on 29, Feb, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Great article! It’s so hard to break out of the ‘comfortable’ and try different things. I’m feeling like I’m constantly in a state of uncomfortable and not figuring out yet where I belong. This article reminded me that it’s ok to be confused as long as you are on a track to finding/following your passion. Thanks for helping me keep things in perspective :)

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